One of the most famous anime films of the '90s-era was no doubt Ghost in the Shell, an animated adaptation of the popular Japanese manga by Masamune Shirow (Appleseed, Dominion). But as long as the animated film has been a cult-hit, talk of a live-action adaptation has been discussed. Now that film is finally becoming a reality.
After a stalled attempt to launch the movie a few years back, Dreamworks has quickly put together a creative team for the film that consists of Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, Reluctant Fundamentalist writer William Wheeler, and Scarlett Johansson starring in the lead role.
While we know what the main creative team behind the film looks like, details about this new adaptation of the material have been scant. While out doing the worldwide press tour for The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Scarlett Johansson spoke about where Ghost in the Shell currently stands.
As per Collider:
“It’s happening. It will be shooting the beginning of next year, so I think we start production January or February and it’s me and Rupert [Sanders]; and that’s all I know.”
Not much there to go on - but it does sound like things are progressing as planned to meet the 2017 release date. Between Marvel movie demands, general movie work (and now motherhood), it must feel like threading the needle for Johansson to schedule yet another lead action role to go along with Black Widow and Lucy.
At the very least, if filming is supposed to begin next year, Johansson should still be in good fighting shape after having completed filming on Captain America: Civil War, which returns her to the Black Widow role for a fifth time. It is still unclear whether or not she is going to play Ghost in the Shell manga/anime protagonist Major Motoko Kusanagi, some Americanized version or a new character entirely - but the same general backstory/premise is expected.
In the comic/film, Kusanagi works as an assault team leader for "Section 9," in a future where technology and humanity have merged to the point that the digital world can be accessed through cybernetic bodies fitted with direct neural uplinks. Section 9 is tasked with apprehending "The Puppet Master," a dangerous hacker who can manipulated cybernetic bodies and digital systems. As Kusanagi and her team investigate, they uncover a government conspiracy to create and control a powerful new A.I. entity.
Again, how much of this is in the live-action movie script is unknown. 2015 is much different than 1995 when the animated movie was released; technology is in a much different place. What Ghost in the Shell represents, thematically - or other stories told in the manga or later anime movies - could be more relevant and timely than trying to rehash the Puppet Master story. Or maybe that story is now more timely than ever?
What this film will really come down to is the sci-fi story Wheeler focuses on, and the unique visual style Sanders brings to the table (as he did with SWATH). The hardcore fanbase is already upset over the alleged "white-washing" of the Japanese material - so the real target is getting the masses onboard early with a compelling sci-fi actioner.
Ghost in the Shell is slated to hit theaters on April 14th, 2017.